So here is the wrap up (It's a little long). I didn't have the internet my last few days so I just typed it on my computer and now that I am home I can post it.
Thrusday, July 30th... Last Day in Dharamsala
Up early, I went to McLeod to run a couple errands. I had to do an exchange, buy a couple last minute parting gifts and say goodbye to all my favorite shop keepers. After seeing them at least twice a week and numerous cups of tea, you really do become friends with them. I got back with a little time to spare and it was off to my last day with the women's group. The tears were flowing before class even started. Our youngest student, came up to me with her huge beautiful brown eyes and said... "Kara, please don't go." Rip my heart out! I picked her up, put her in my lap and started scheming how I could pack her in my suitcase. After everyone had arrived and the emotions had settled down a little bit we started teaching the day's lesson: a review of past tense and articles (a, an, & the). We made it through the majority of class when Jetenter stopped us and said that we were going to have another cooking lesson in honor of my last day. We learned how to make momos! (Mitchell, I'll have to make them for you sometime!) It was so fun and by the way, onions are potent over there. I usually don't have too much of a problem cutting onions but I thought I was going to die. It's also amazing how my mind set changed during the time I was over there. Normally, I would be really conservative about what I ate but by the end it really didn't matter anymore. We finished cooking and soon it was time to leave. I hugged everyone goodbye as it had become a tradition after every class... but this time it was for good and it was really sad. Ekta, Rita, Jetender, Inder, Madu, Auman, and Jessie all walked the the end of the drive way and stood there waving until our car was out of sight. Sad day.
Back to the house – 1 hour left. I walked in the door and went up to my room to finish packing. I couldn't stop crying. I was going to miss India so much! I fell in love when I was over there and I already long to go back. I spent my last few minutes talking with my friends before Jeetu and Mukesh finally came up to collect my luggage. More hugs, more goodbyes, more tears. What made it even worse was that I was leaving alone. I just had to make it to Delhi and wait for Aimee to arrive on the bus in the morning.
I arrived at the CCS base in Delhi with 5 other volunteers from Palampur. Pete was there! Yay, I had a friend! However, after a long day of traveling, being emotionally and mentally exhausted and fighting a cold, I was ready for bed soon after we arrived. I managed to make it through dinner and a movie but then I passed out as soon as I hit the pillow.
P.S. In Delhi we had air conditioning... I almost forgot what that sweet little invention was.
Friday, July 31st (Jeetu’s Birthday)
Delhi. Aimee arrived just as we were heading down to breakfast. I was so excited to see her! She went right to bed as her bus ride was a little long and as she would put it.. she was knackered. After breakfast we had a feedback meeting with Bela and then it was off to sight see in the city. I know I have said it before but I am so thankful that I was in Dharamsala! However, it was good to do a little sightseeing in the city. We called our friend Jassie to take us around town. He picked us up around noon and we started our adventure by going to the Lotus temple (of the Baha'i faith), followed by the Red Fort, the India gate, a huge Mosque, and the streets of Old Delhi. In the temple and the mosque we were required to take off our shoes.. nothing new... but I thought my feet were going to blister it was so hot walking on the cement. Everything was very beautiful though and I'll explain more later with pictures.
That night we ate dinner and Pete and I went and played soccer in the little courtyard outside our flat. It felt so good! I don't think I've ever gone that long without playing soccer! Pete plays for Union College and it was fun to play a little one on one and get some exercise. The bad thing was that we both felt really out of shape and we were both drenched in sweat by the time we were finished. It was time to hit the showers and get to bed. We had a big day ahead of us... starting at 2am we would be on our way to the TAJ MAHAL!!
Saturday, August 1 - Let the Travels Begin
2:30am – Left for the Taj Mahal
4 hour drive in a taxi
No sleep, because you're always afraid that the next turn could be your last.
With all of that being said, seeing the sunrise at the Taj Mahal was worth every minute of not sleeping and the bumpy, crowded taxi ride. It was so pretty and the people-watching was phenomenal. Words can't describe the Taj Mahal and pictures will not do it justice but I will post the pictures in a picture blog later so you can all see it. It was wonderful! After we spent a couple hours walking around the mosque and the Taj, Jassie took us to breakfast. (Aimee did not feel well for the rest of the trip so she spent most of the time napping in the car. I felt so bad for her, especially since she had been looking forward to the trip for weeks.) The three of us enjoyed some breakfast and then it was off to explore the Agra Fort. I hung out with Pete most of the time because he was more adventurous and we went searching for hidden passageways and fun stuff like that. It was so huge! We spent nearly 2 1/2 hours there and we didn't even see everything! Crazy! The downside... there were bats. Yes, I screamed. And ran.
(Just in case you were wondering here is the brief story behind the fort and Taj Mahal... The emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of one of his wives who died in childbirth. It is a tomb of sorts. Anyway he built it across the river from the fort where he ruled.. the Agra Fort. The view is amazing. The bad part is, he was overthrown and locked up in his own house. His cell is in what is called the Octagon tower. So this magnificent structure that he spent all his money and time on to honor his dead wife was just outside of his prison cell which was located in a fort that he used to rule... talk about depressing. There were also two different parts of the fort that were not open when we were there. These were his daughter's living quarters... both of them were the size of multi-million dollar houses complete with something called the "hall of mirrors." No big deal. This was used as a dressing quarters I believe for his daughters or one of them. Anyway it was lined with diamonds, so says the guard that tried to make us pay for looking through the window (we could only look in the window since it was closed to the public). Also, there were huge beautiful courtyard gardens. I really wish I could have see it back in it's prime!)
It was a long buy very eventful day and the drive home took forever but we were able to catch up on some much needed sleep. I was super tired but I figured I had a long flight ahead of me so it might be a good thing. We were told to order pizza for dinner and nothing made us more excited than seeing a huge menu with a plethora of American style pizzas. Mmmm. It was amazing!
After dinner, I packed the remainder of my stuff and it was off to the airport. Everything went smoothly, once again no problems... good deal. I arrived at my gate and pulled out my book. I had a couple hours so I was in for the long hall. When I looked up I saw Pete sitting across from me. He had left for the airport a couple hours earlier than I had and he was still waiting for his flight. We talked a bit, but it wasn't long before he was called to board. Back to my book. I read "Christian the Lion." I don't know if you all are familiar with the YouTube hit of the guys being reunited with the lion cub that they raised in London, but that is what the book was about. It was so interesting... and sentimental. I finished the 200+ page book to give you an idea of how long I waited in the airport.
The time had come, 18 long hours and it was back to the USA.